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RISE program empowers officials for female development

A vital connection needed between female Rugby League players in regional areas and the game’s elite competition – the NRLW – is being established.

The NSWRL and NRL joined forces at Ignite HQ Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park, under the RISE Rookie Academy, to give coaches, strength-and-conditioning officials, the tools to prepare talented girls 17-years and older for ‘the big time’.

Those officials will now go back to 10 locations across NSW, the ACT, Melbourne and Perth to set up RISE programs with a six-month duration.

Players identified and put through the sessions on physical development, football skills, and personal well-being, will then form the basis of teams to take part in the Country Championships.

That will then progress to an Emerging NSW Country side to take part in the annual Harvey Norman National Women’s Championships. Players will also have the chance to be picked for the open women’s NSW Country team to play NSW City.

It is at the national titles that many football and recruitment managers from NRL teams scout for talent, with the NRLW to expand from six to 10 teams in 2023.

“It’s an opportunity for our regional girls to be seen by NRLW clubs,” Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues head coach Kylie Hilder said.

“We know from experience the girls in rural areas don’t get the opportunities like they do in the metro areas.

“But these academies will give them the tools on and off the field – so physically for things like the strength and condition for tackling but also mentally for things like nutrition, well-ness.”

Hilder, who is also assistant coach at the NRLW Premiers Sydney Roosters, said the beauty of the RISE academies meant players would not be forced to move from their homes.

“We’re going to give them the opportunity to stay in their regional areas. We put them into these academies, give them quality training in all the skills for mind and body,” she said.

“They will be well-prepared so then they can play Country Championships, perform well, and hopefully an NRL club will pick them up.”

Three-time NRL head coach at the Canberra Raiders, North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans, Neil Henry, said the profile and popularity of women’s Rugby League had to be tapped into.

“We needed to bridge the gap between the competitions already running in the metropolitan areas, like the Harvey Norman NSW Women’s Premiership and the Tarsha Gale Cup, to those in the country,” said Henry, who was one of the presenters of the RISE program.

“A lot of the girls in regional NSW play League Tag but don’t have the tackle game to play so this RISE program is a lead-in to the Country and then the National championships next year.”

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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